Preparatory Academy for Writers: A College Board School
Lots of writing in all subjects; middle school has good attendance and test scores;
Shared building means a lot traffic in the hallways; school's small size means fewer electives
At Preparatory Academy for Writers (PAW), a small school serving grades 6-12, kids keep journals and have lively discussions in class. The middle school has excellent attendance and above-average test scores. By 8th grade students are tackling high school work and taking Regents exams.
The vibe throughout the school is friendly and calm. We were particularly impressed by how relaxed and focused 6th-graders were in classes immediately after their lunchtime.
Instead of simply lecturing from the front of the room, teachers encourage students to work on their own and in small groups. In a math class, some students may be solving problems at their desk, while another group is writing in their journal about the questions they have, and observations made, while still another group works with the teacher. In English classes, many lessons follow a similar pattern of reading, taking notes and discussing with peers and the entire class.
Students in all grades write a lot and compile portfolios of their best work as well as academic goals they set for themselves. At the end of each semester, students give oral presentations, discussing their work and reflecting on how well they met their goals.
To help with students transition to middle school, 6th-graders have the same teacher for both English and social studies in a double-period class called humanities. Students study algebra for two years starting in the 7th grade; by the end of 8th grade they take Regents exams in algebra, earth science and United States history.
About one-third of the student body leaves for high school, with a few going to super-selective schools like Townsend Harris. Those who stay are joined by new 9th graders, some of whom have weak skills. The school offers them a lot of support.
Stronger students take a range of Advanced Placement classes. Struggling students take fewer classes that run at least for a double period. For instance, students needing extra help dont take a science class freshman year so they can devote more time to English, math and history; in 10th grade they take a double period of Living Environment. The attendance rate in high school is lower than the middle school. While some students take a demanding college-prep curriculum, the majority of graduates need to take remedial classes in CUNY.
All students participate in small group advisory classes, where they focus on both academic and social-emotional skills. Incoming 6th- and 9th-graders participate in a summer bridge program, a mix of fun, team-building activities and academic assessments, so teachers know their strengths and weakness at the start of the school year.
Housed on the first floor of the large, 1960s-era Springfield Gardens Educational Campus, PAW shares the building with three small high schools:Excelsior Preparatory High School High School, George Washington Carver High School for the Sciences and Queens Preparatory Academy. Students get big school perks such as a variety of sports teams and larger facilities. The downside is that first floor gets a lot of traffic as students from other schools come and go throughout the day to use the cafeteria and gymnasiumboth located on the first floor.
Though PAW was one of several schools founded with support from College Board, the organization ended its affiliation with individual schools in 2013.
There are a few elective classes such as photography. The Child Center of New York sponsors onsite after-school activities for the middle school including arts and sports. High schools students participate in campus-wide sports teams
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are SETSS and ICT classes
ADMISSIONS: For middle school, priority to District 29 residents who attend and information session. For high school, priority to continuing 8th-graders and then to New York City residents who attend an information session. (Laura Zingmond, February 2017)
About the students
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Programs and Admissions
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Statistics, AP U.S. History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Football, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Flag Football, Indoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams